Miss Brill is an elderly spinster alone in France. She appears to have no family or friends, only her fur necklet which she refers to as “her little rogue”. She visits the park to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations, making their problems her problems. “She had become really quite an expert, she thought, at listening as though she didn’t listen”. I feel this is her attempt at having a life; all she really wants is someone to talk to. Reading Miss Brill opened my eyes to how lonely it must be to be an older person. Now I’m more aware of how little things can brighten up your day a great deal “sometimes there was an almond in her slice, sometimes not. It made a great difference.” Miss Brill’s life was routine, and many older people relate to this.
Mansfield uses rich, vivid descriptions of the park and the people in it, as seen through the thoughts of Miss Brill. This acts as a sharp contrast to Miss Brill’s stark and lonely life. She sees the world in tremendous detail, because she has nothing better to do than observe.
She visits the park every Sunday to “play her part” in the performance of life, when in reality she is an observer of other people’s lives. She feels a part of the environment, but really she is alienated from it. Miss Brill has an illusion that she is part of the community “no doubt somebody would have noticed if she hadn’t been there”, but really she is invisible to the people around her. The cruel comments by the young couple demonstrate a lack of empathy towards older people and the words shatter her fantasy of being involved in society. The text opened my eyes on how older people can be treated, and I will definitely be more considerate and compassionate.
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